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Peer into the Justin Pearson documentary Don’t Fall in Love With Yourself

Question the purpose of defining terms like “punk” and “power-violence”

Justin Pearson doesn’t want to mislead anyone by describing his music.
Justin Pearson doesn’t want to mislead anyone by describing his music.

“To be honest, when asked to describe my music, I won’t describe it,” says Justin Pearson. “I think words, specifically genres, are limiting and misleading. However, when I get asked what kind of music I play, I generally just say ‘annoying.’” Pearson is a vet of over a dozen local bands, including Dead Cross (with Slayer drummer Dave Lombardo), All Leather, The Locust, Holy Molar, Head Wound City, Some Girls, and ReTox.

In addition, Pearson heads up a record label called Three One G, founded in 1994, which also publishes books. His own travels around the world (“I met Jaleel White at the Eiffel Tower”) provided the inspiration for his book How to Lose Friends and Irritate People, which chronicles a miserable overseas tour with the Bloody Beetroots. The Race to Zero is a collection of lyrics he has written throughout his career up until 2018, as well as short creative vignettes and prose. And From the Graveyard to the Arousal Industry deals in part with how he was 12 when his father was assaulted, robbed, and died during a 1987 altercation with patrons in a restaurant bar.

The year after his father’s death, Pearson was living in Clairemont, where he met Eric Allen, with whom he later formed the 1990s hardcore/screamo band Swing Kids. Shortly after that group split in 1998, Allen committed suicide. “That was the other big heavy-hitter for me, as far as someone dying,” he says. A documentary about Pearson is in production, Don’t Fall in Love With Yourself, which explores his life as it progressed from those two tragedies through his appearance on Jerry Springer’s show and his role in the local music scene, as well as its role in his life. “My favorite concerts were all in San Diego, like The Cramps at the California Theatre 1987 or Downcast at the Che Café [in] 1991. As far as why: those two shows changed me, how I am, and how I perceive music and art.”

Documentary interviewees include bandmates Dave Lombardo, Gabe Serbian, and Bobby Bray, as well as Travis Ryan of Cattle Decapitation and others. Additional material is sourced from dozens of VHS and mini-DV tapes Pearson recorded over three decades. It’s a story of living life with no regrets. “If it sucked, I learned from it.”

Pearson is also one of 12 American musicians featured in a 2020 documentary about independence and music, Parallel Planes, along with interviewees Michael Gira (Swans), Mick Barr (Orthrelm), Ian MacKaye (Minor Threat, Fugazi), Valentine Falcon (Get Hustle), Jamie Stewart (Xiu Xiu), Anna Barie (These Are Powers), Weasel Walter (Flying Luttenbachers), Jenny Hoyston (Erase Errata), Alap Momin (Dälek), and Greg Saunier (Deerhoof).

His podcast Cult and Culture, produced in collaboration with Luke Henshaw (Sonida de la Frontera, Planet B), is recorded locally at Penguin Studios, and has hosted guests such as cult filmmaker John Waters. “The focus is not intended to be solely on people in any one realm, and because guests are friends and family, the conversations are frank, informal, well-informed, and genuine.”

The newest episode features Deaf Club guitarists Tommy Meehan (The Manx, Squid Pisser) and Brian Amalfitano (ACxDC). “They discuss their methods when it comes to collaborating in the band, and the shared goal of creating organized chaos in order to push the listener and themselves. They share some of their early influences, including Gwar and Nirvana, and the ways in which these possibly unexpected foundations influenced their playing and theatricality in order to later form something newer, weirder, and nastier. They also question the purpose of defining terms like ‘punk’ and ‘power-violence,’ and have conversations about the uselessness of gatekeeping, how to confuse neo-Nazis, and the importance of the cultural shifts and relevance that music can bring about beyond the music itself.”

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Justin Pearson doesn’t want to mislead anyone by describing his music.
Justin Pearson doesn’t want to mislead anyone by describing his music.

“To be honest, when asked to describe my music, I won’t describe it,” says Justin Pearson. “I think words, specifically genres, are limiting and misleading. However, when I get asked what kind of music I play, I generally just say ‘annoying.’” Pearson is a vet of over a dozen local bands, including Dead Cross (with Slayer drummer Dave Lombardo), All Leather, The Locust, Holy Molar, Head Wound City, Some Girls, and ReTox.

In addition, Pearson heads up a record label called Three One G, founded in 1994, which also publishes books. His own travels around the world (“I met Jaleel White at the Eiffel Tower”) provided the inspiration for his book How to Lose Friends and Irritate People, which chronicles a miserable overseas tour with the Bloody Beetroots. The Race to Zero is a collection of lyrics he has written throughout his career up until 2018, as well as short creative vignettes and prose. And From the Graveyard to the Arousal Industry deals in part with how he was 12 when his father was assaulted, robbed, and died during a 1987 altercation with patrons in a restaurant bar.

The year after his father’s death, Pearson was living in Clairemont, where he met Eric Allen, with whom he later formed the 1990s hardcore/screamo band Swing Kids. Shortly after that group split in 1998, Allen committed suicide. “That was the other big heavy-hitter for me, as far as someone dying,” he says. A documentary about Pearson is in production, Don’t Fall in Love With Yourself, which explores his life as it progressed from those two tragedies through his appearance on Jerry Springer’s show and his role in the local music scene, as well as its role in his life. “My favorite concerts were all in San Diego, like The Cramps at the California Theatre 1987 or Downcast at the Che Café [in] 1991. As far as why: those two shows changed me, how I am, and how I perceive music and art.”

Documentary interviewees include bandmates Dave Lombardo, Gabe Serbian, and Bobby Bray, as well as Travis Ryan of Cattle Decapitation and others. Additional material is sourced from dozens of VHS and mini-DV tapes Pearson recorded over three decades. It’s a story of living life with no regrets. “If it sucked, I learned from it.”

Pearson is also one of 12 American musicians featured in a 2020 documentary about independence and music, Parallel Planes, along with interviewees Michael Gira (Swans), Mick Barr (Orthrelm), Ian MacKaye (Minor Threat, Fugazi), Valentine Falcon (Get Hustle), Jamie Stewart (Xiu Xiu), Anna Barie (These Are Powers), Weasel Walter (Flying Luttenbachers), Jenny Hoyston (Erase Errata), Alap Momin (Dälek), and Greg Saunier (Deerhoof).

His podcast Cult and Culture, produced in collaboration with Luke Henshaw (Sonida de la Frontera, Planet B), is recorded locally at Penguin Studios, and has hosted guests such as cult filmmaker John Waters. “The focus is not intended to be solely on people in any one realm, and because guests are friends and family, the conversations are frank, informal, well-informed, and genuine.”

The newest episode features Deaf Club guitarists Tommy Meehan (The Manx, Squid Pisser) and Brian Amalfitano (ACxDC). “They discuss their methods when it comes to collaborating in the band, and the shared goal of creating organized chaos in order to push the listener and themselves. They share some of their early influences, including Gwar and Nirvana, and the ways in which these possibly unexpected foundations influenced their playing and theatricality in order to later form something newer, weirder, and nastier. They also question the purpose of defining terms like ‘punk’ and ‘power-violence,’ and have conversations about the uselessness of gatekeeping, how to confuse neo-Nazis, and the importance of the cultural shifts and relevance that music can bring about beyond the music itself.”

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